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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Pepper the proceedings with some entertainment

This simply isn’t done. It’s terrible, absolutely terrible, the way our parliamentarians go about wasting taxpayers’ money.

columns Updated: Feb 16, 2014 00:06 IST

Hindustan Times

This simply isn’t done. It’s terrible, absolutely terrible, the way our parliamentarians go about wasting taxpayers’ money.

The problem is that while we would like our elected representatives to work, they would much rather brawl. Therein lies the contradiction. It’s all very well to fulminate against them or write impassioned editorials, but that is not going to get you anywhere. We have to be practical. We must find a way of using our legislators’ violent impulses to make them pass Bills.

The crux of the matter is that the current scuffles in Parliament are a free-for-all — they don’t obey any rules. The first step, therefore, is to lay down the rules of the game. The whole fight process must be structured, so that there’s business done at the end of it. That way, we satisfy our urge to see them work, while they satisfy their craving for scrapping. It’s win-win.

Here’s what should happen after a Bill is tabled. In Round One, lawmakers from the government and opposition benches should shout at each other. Not everybody at once, but in turns. Each member will be allowed five minutes of yelling.

In Round Two, members will compete against each other in sprinting to the well of the House. The Speaker will time them. Women members could compete separately.

Round Three will involve microphone throwing and bench smashing. Some members may retire hurt after this round.

We then go forward to Round Four or fisticuffs. Time limits for each round must be strictly adhered to. In the fisticuffs round, boxing gloves will be supplied to members free and the Queensberry rules must be observed. The lack of proper equipment has been a constraint for our legislators in the discharge of their duties and the supply of boxing gloves should remedy that.

Round Five could be on wrestling, round six on karate and round seven, the final round, could be on the difficult art of pepper spraying. The party that wins the competition does what it likes with the Bill. If there’s no parliamentarian left standing, the Speaker will cast the deciding vote.

Political scientists have suggested that innovative competitions, such as paintballs, water cannon and stink bombs could also be arranged. Women lawmakers may opt to be active participants or cheerleaders. A guy with a muffler has suggested competitive dharnas, but most folks consider that sport rather dull.

Who’ll pay for all this? I strongly believe that people will pay good money for the entertainment. The way to go about it is to make Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV pay channels and repeat the most lurid episodes during prime time. TRPs will be phenomenal and ad revenues will pour in. Kids would switch from watching Chhota Bheem to watching parliamentary proceedings. We could also charge for live performances held in stadiums for the passing of important Bills, with different parties wearing different coloured uniforms. We could brand the programme MPtainment. I’m sure it’ll be a big hit overseas as well, carrying the message of Indian democracy far and wide.

We will no longer be in thrall to the anaemic, constipated Westminster model, but have our very own vibrant, home-grown, colourful carnival of democracy. Best of all, the new democracy is bound to be a great hit with the masses, who will start taking an intense interest in parliamentary proceedings. Of course, legalising betting on the competitions will help immensely.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint

Views expressed by the author are personal

First Published: Feb 16, 2014 00:02 IST

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